Orpheus and Eurydice

Orpheus and Eurydice. Sculpture by  François-Auguste-René Rodin. modeled ca. 1887, carved 1893.  Metropolitan Museum, New York
Orpheus and Eurydice. Sculpture by François-Auguste-René Rodin. modelled ca. 1887, carved 1893. Metropolitan Museum, New York


The myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is a tragic love story from Greek mythology.

It is an enduring tale of love and loss that still resonates with readers today. It is often used to illustrate the power of love and the dangers of doubt. Although Orpheus ultimately failed to bring back Eurydice, his story serves as an inspiration to never give up hope.

Overall, the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is a tragic tale that serves as a reminder of the dangers of temptation and the fragility of life and love.

The Myth of Orpheus and Eurydice

According to the myth, Orpheus was a talented musician and poet who played the lyre so beautifully that he could charm anyone with his music, even animals and plants. He fell in love with a beautiful woman named Eurydice, and they were married.

Unfortunately, Eurydice was bitten by a venomous snake on their wedding day and died. Orpheus was devastated by her death. On the banks of the Strymon River, Orpheus bitterly lamented the loss of Eurydice. Dismayed, he played such sad songs and sang so plaintively that all the nymphs and all the gods wept and advised him to descend into the Underworld in search of his beloved to try to bring her back.

The journey to the Underworld was not easy and he had to overcome several obstacles. One of the most difficult challenges was the fearsome guardian at the gates of the Underworld. A multi-headed dog named Cerberus. Orpheus took his lyre and played a sad melody until the dog, moved and saddened by the song, let him pass through into the Underworld.

In the underworld, Orpheus used his music to charm the ruler of the Underworld, Hades, and his wife, Persephone. They were so moved by his music that they agreed to let Eurydice return to the land of the living on one condition: Orpheus had to lead her out of the underworld, but he was not allowed to look back at her until they had both reached the surface.

Statue of the Greek Godf Hades with the guardian of the Underworld, Cerberus
Statue of the Greek God Hades with the guardian of the Underworld, Cerberus

Orpheus agreed to the terms, and he and Eurydice began the long journey back to the land of the living. As Orpheus and Eurydice made their way out of the underworld, Orpheus is filled with doubt that Eurydice is really there. He can’t resist the temptation and looks back, only to see his beloved wife disappear forever. Orpheus was heartbroken and spent the rest of his life mourning the loss of his beloved.

He was so devastated by this turn of events that he wandered the earth alone, playing his music and mourning the loss of his wife. Some versions of the myth say that he eventually died, still mourning Eurydice, while others say that he was killed by vengeful women who were jealous of his musical talent.

Orpheus tried to return to the underworld, but Charon denied him passage through the Lethe River, so Orpheus withdrew to the Rhodope and Haemo mountains, where he stayed for three years, avoiding amorous union with any woman, despite the fact that many nymphs were offered to him.

He continued to sing and play the lyre, which caused the trees to be affected and touched by his pain. The Maenads of the mountains despised him since they could not be with him.

They seized the animals that accompanied him and stoned him, tore him to pieces and scattered his limbs. His head and his lyre were thrown into the river Evros; those remains ended up in the sea, and, near the island of Lesbos, a snake wanted to eat the head of Orpheus, but Apollo transformed it into a rock.

Death of Orpheus by Italian artist Michele Tripisciano (plaster 1898).
Death of Orpheus by Italian artist Michele Tripisciano (plaster 1898).

For his part, Dionysus punished the bacchantes by turning them into trees. Meanwhile, Orpheus’s soul found Eurydice’s in the Underworld, and from that moment they are inseparable.

1 thought on “Orpheus and Eurydice: The Ultimate Tragic Love Story

  1. no habia leido ni escuchado este mito antes, me parece muy interesante todo lo que sufrio orfeo por su amada, si tan solo no hubiera volteado a verla cuando la sacaba del inframundo, todo hubiera sido diferente para el.. lo malo fue q tuvo un tragico final. su muerte fue desgarradora y triste. creo q no merecia morir de esa manera tan aberrante.. bueno, al menos quedo un recuerdo de el y su amada para nosotros.